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Galaxy Nexus ‘minuscule’ compared to iPhone sales – Samsung defense against Apple’s copy claims

August 20, 2012

In addition to the main U.S. Apple vs Samsung case that we’re following closely these days, there are other patent-based battles between the two giants – in total there are over 50 cases spread across four continents.

Today Bloomberg informs us on a different U.S. legal predicament between Apple and Samsung, this one related to a Galaxy Nexus sales ban that was recently obtained by Apple in the USA, only to be stayed on second appeal by Samsung pending Apple’s appeal.

Apple has made its case in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, where it claimed again that the Galaxy Nexus copied the iPhone:

“This was the beat-Apple strategy,” Apple lawyer Mark Perry of Gibson Dunn, said yesterday in arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. “This was the top of the line, Cadillac phone they trotted out to compete with the iPhone.”

To such arguments, Samsung responded, among other things, that the market share of the Galaxy Nexus is “minuscule” in the U.S., compared with the iPhone’s share. That’s definitely a good argument for Samsung, as Apple has to prove the Galaxy Nexus costs Apple market share loss, but at the same time it’s also pretty sad for both Samsung and Google.

The Galaxy Nexus did not become the iPhone 4S rival the two companies expected it to be. Samsung’s own counsel acknowledged that Samsung sold $250 million of the Galaxy Nexus device in the first two quarters it was on the market” compared to the $16.2 billion worth of iPhones sold by Apple in the second quarter of the year ending in June (it’s third quarter in fiscal year 2012.)

Samsung lawyer John Quinn said Apple, which has the biggest share of the U.S. market, wasn’t harmed by the “minuscule” sales of the Galaxy Nexus, so there’s no threat if the phone remains on the market.[…]
“This is a product that, at most, captured 0.5 percent of the market,” Quinn said. “Nothing in the record here would support a finding of irreparable harm” to Apple.

The trial in this U.S. Apple vs Samsung case is scheduled for March 2014, so we’re probably bound to see a lot more pre-trial friction between the two sides until then. One of the results of this Galaxy Nexus attempted ban can already be seen on other Samsung devices, namely the removal of the unified search feature, a technology that Apple claims is infringed by the Galaxy Nexus. In fact, Samsung has also taken precautionary measures and removed unified search capabilities from its U.S. Galaxy S3 versions, probably in hope of avoiding such conflicts with Apple.

Also worth noting is that third parties such as Google and Sprint intervened in Samsung’s favor, both having different reasons for backing up the Android maker:

The patent relates “at best, to a very minor aspect of the Galaxy Nexus phone’s overall functionality which was never shown to drive sales,” Google wrote. […]
Modern smartphones have thousands of features, and if patent owners can block products based on a single invention, all of the devices would be vulnerable to such orders and “the design and manufacture of similarly complex technological marvels would become economically infeasible,” Google wrote.
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S), which sells the Galaxy Nexus, said in a court filing that a ban “harms Sprint’s substantial investment in its device portfolio” that can’t be filled for nine to 12 months.
“It impacts the inventory of thousands of downstream distribution points and it tarnishes Sprint’s reputation,” Sprint said, calling itself an “unwitting victim” in the legal battles over smartphones.

We’ll be back with more news from the Apple vs Samsung worldwide conflict in the following days, with added focus on the on-going San Jose trial that has already reached the closing arguments phase.